FAIRBANKS, Alaska - “We're as mad as hell, and we're not going to take it anymore,” those were the words of Fairbanks Representative Steve Thompson. He spoke just before Wednesday's failed vote to overturn the governor's 182 line item vetoes. Thompson made a motion to withdraw the vote in hopes of having more legislators in today's meeting. However, because the number of delegates did not increase, Thompson rescinded the withdrawal.
With only one day left for the legislature to override the vetoes, many are wondering what is coming next. According to Fairbanks Representative Grier Hopkins, the governor's approval is needed for a change to the vetoes to stay. With 16 members of the House Minority and 5 senators still in Wasilla, there are not enough delegates to reach the 45 votes they need. Even if those members did travel to Juneau, it is unlikely they would vote yes on an override. The legislature could approve appropriations to reinstate the funding, but Governor Mike Dunleavy could veto those as well. That would restart the process, where the state legislature would still need 45 votes to stop the governor. That means Dunleavy himself must support the changes.
"The legislature has been trying to negotiate with the governor for a long time on these very issues," began Rep. Hopkins; "because of the unprecedented way that we have not been able to work with the governor over these past seven months, we don't know where he is wanting to go and where we can find that common ground. Those compromises will have to be found, here going forward."
Despite being the only legislator that voted against the override, North Pole Representative Tammie Wilson says she is in favor of making changes to the state budget. Wilson added she does not support all of the line item vetoes.
"Well, the senior benefit right now is state law," stated Rep. Wilson; "and so for the governor not to fund it without a statute change, the same as the dividend, it is wrong. There was a bill that was filed by the governor but it did not pass the legislature. We need to follow all the laws, not just pick and choose which ones."
No matter what decision is made... as of this week, the vetoes will remain in effect.